Most of us who have been to the beach have probably experienced the thrill of finding something buried in the sand. Usually, it’s a shell of some sort, but sometimes you might discover a small, brightly colored pebble. This is sea glass. Sea glass jewelry is becoming increasingly popular because of its environmentally-friendly and sentimental appeal.
Sea glass is formed from broken pieces of glass that have been cast overboard from ships or washed out to sea. The continuous movement of the waves and abrasion from sand and rocks rub the glass smooth, giving it its rounded shape and the appearance of frosted glass.
The color of the glass depends on its origin. For example, blue sea glass often comes from old medicine bottles. It can take up to a century for the glass to wash up on our beaches in the form of the beautiful smooth pebbles we’re familiar with. Sea glass may also be easier or harder to find, depending on which beach you’re on. Generally, sea glass is more common where glass was historically discarded, such as beaches and harbors nearby towns and old manufacturing sites. Most of the time, however, you’ll be able to spot these colorful treasures wherever you are – provided you take the time to look.
Sea glass can be found in a variety of shapes, sizes, and finishes, depending on how long it’s been in the ocean. This also affects the quality of the glass and determines whether it’s suitable for jewelry. Jewelry-grade glass is smooth, with well-rounded edges and a frosted appearance. Newly discarded glass will still be shiny and doesn’t have the soft look or feel of aged sea glass.
You can take your sea glass to a professional jeweler who specializes in sea glass jewelry to have it set in a ring, bracelet, pendant, or any other kind of jewelry you desire. Alternatively, if you’re more of a ‘do-it-yourself’ type, you can create your own sea glass jewelry at a jewelry-making workshop.
In these workshops, you’ll learn how to create your own earrings, pendants, rings, bangles, brooches, and more using the sea glass that you’ve collected.
Sea glass jewelry has risen in popularity for several reasons. First, hunting for sea glass can be a very soothing and therapeutic activity. The thrill of finding glass in favorite or rare colors may even turn some people into avid collectors. Second, each piece can serve as a memento of a favorite place or a special day, adding meaning to the jewelry.
Third, genuine sea glass is an incredibly sustainable choice when it comes to jewelry. It doesn’t require any of the mining or chemical practices needed to unearth traditional gemstones and is created through a completely natural process once the glass enters the ocean.
In addition, because sea glass isn’t a natural part of the sea or beach like pebbles and shells, you’re allowed to remove it from beaches. This means you never have to feel guilty about picking up these colorful gems.
If you picked up your sea glass on a beach along the coast, chances are, it’s real sea glass. However, you may occasionally find the odd piece of plastic that looks like sea glass. An easy way to tell them apart is by looking for the tell-tale c-shaped marks left by the pebbles and sand that rubbed against the glass. Plastic and glass also sound different when tapped, so this is another way you can tell them apart.
If you decide to purchase sea glass online, it’s best to exercise caution. This glass is not guaranteed to come from the sea. Instead, it’s usually made from smashed glass or glass beads that have been tumbled to emulate the effect of the waves against the glass. If the site offers many similar-sized pieces and rare colors, there’s a good chance it isn’t real sea glass.
Part of the charm of sea glass is the asymmetry of its shape. But occasionally, you may come across a piece that is too angular for your liking. If you want to adjust the piece’s shape, you’ll need to take it to be professionally cut. This is because the glass may shatter without the proper tools.
Blue, green, white, and brown are the most common colors for sea glass. This is because these colors have all been mass-produced in the past and continue to be manufactured today. Conversely, rare colors for sea glass include pink, red, purple, and turquoise. These are likely to originate from decorative homewares and other items that have not been produced on a large scale.
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